Influence of landscape condition on relative abundance and body condition of two generalist freshwater turtle species
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Ecology and Evolution
Anthropogenic land use changes have broad impacts on biological diversity, often resulting in shifts in community composition. While many studies have documented negative impacts on occurrence and abundance of species, less attention has been given to native species that potentially benefit from anthropogenic land use changes. For many species reaching high densities in human-dominated landscapes, it is unclear whether these environments represent higher quality habitat than more natural environments. We examined the influence of landscape ecological integrity on relative abundance and body condition of two native generalist freshwater turtle species that are prevalent in anthropogenic systems, the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) and red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Relative abundance was negatively associated with ecological integrity for both species, but the relationship was not strongly supported for painted turtles. Body condition was positively associated with ecological integrity for painted turtles, with no strong association for red-eared sliders. Our study suggests that both species benefitted at the population level from reduced ecological integrity, but individual-level habitat quality was reduced for painted turtles. The differing responses between these two habitat generalists could partially explain why red-eared sliders have become a widespread exotic invasive species, while painted turtles have not.
KeywordsChrysemys picta; habitat generalist; land use; Trachemys scripta elegans
Mota, Joel L.; Brown, Donald J.; Canning, Danielle M.; Crayton, Sara M.; Lozon, Darien N.; Gulette, Alissa L.; Anderson, James T.; Mali, Ivana; Dickerson, Brian E.; Forstner, Michael R. J.; Watson, Mark B.; Pauley, Thomas K. 2021. Influence of landscape condition on relative abundance and body condition of two generalist freshwater turtle species. Ecology and Evolution. 11(10): 5511-5521. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7450.